June 27, 2019 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Do you rely on one client for all of your business? Every business worth its salt knows the value of diversification when it comes to making money. It’s a lesson that’s drummed in early and often, often by hard experience.
But diversification doesn’t just apply to variety in your clients. It also applies to your marketing. Being too reliant on one channel will kill your business if that company decides to make a change.
Don’t believe it? Just ask online publisher LittleThings, which sank after riding out several Facebook algorithm changes. Seventy-five percent of their organic reach dried up, per their comments to Business Insider. and their business model died.
Your ad platforms are the same. If you’ve invested all your money and resources into AdWords, for example, and your CPCs begin to get unsustainably high, it takes time to pivot from one platform to another. Why lock yourself in?
The advertising world is changing.
No matter what business you’re in, your audience isn’t just going to be in one place. You might have a higher proportion of customers that you can reach with one ad network or one social network, but you never want to limit yourself.
Social media ad spend was predicted to catch up with newspaper ad revenue in 2019, per a Zenith report — and that was all the way back in 2016. Digital advertising crosses multiple channels, and though social media advertising is important, the more traditional networks haven’t disappeared.
Native advertising is also seeing a significant boost — native simply meaning it looks like part of the publisher’s site instead of loading separately like traditional banners and other advertising that have been hammered by ad blockers.
One report from Business Insider Intelligence notes that native advertising revenue is expected to grow past $36 billion by 2021. From in-line display ads to sponsored posts to boosted tweets, native is one format that’s already growing.
Meanwhile, traditional ad platforms are starting to slow down. TV ads are still strong and still growing slightly, but compared to the growth rates of social platforms they’re not the same. Ad revenues for the world are only expected to grow slightly over the course of the next few years, per a Statista report — less than $20 billion in growth by 2022.
Related: Use This Google AdWords Hack to Lower Costs and Increase Leads
The Outlook report from PwC Global notes that internet advertising is now a $30 billion larger market in the United States than TV, with a growth rate that far outpaces it. Consumer magazine advertising and newspaper advertising are not just flat — they’re in decline.
If you put all your eggs in the basket of traditional channels, you’re probably already having trouble. Digital advertising is the wave of the future — but which channel?
Surviving and making more money online involves trying different things.
John Crestani of Pendragon Labs Marketing does a ton of work with different ad platforms and affiliate marketing. According to him, you don’t necessarily know what’s going to work or which platform is going to be best, though you might have some idea.
As he noted in one of his blog posts, “Here’s an example of one of my [Facebook] ads, which was for a bedbug product … I showed a picture of bedbug bites and I simply wrote ‘Massive Bedbug Epidemic. See how to avoid being attacked.’ I immediately got 4,000 shares on it. This ad went viral; it made me a ton of money.”
That’s one of the biggest takeaways from digital advertising these days: doing studies and focus groups and figuring out where your audience is are important, but at the end of the day sometimes you’re just going to get surprised.
Related: How Bots Steal Your Online Advertising Budget
Not just in terms of ad copy either. Marketers and advertisers get things wrong all the time. Back in the day, some people thought Google+ was going to be huge, and some people thought Instagram was overvalued. Smart people — very smart, well-informed people — screw up predictions all the time on which channels are going to matter five or ten years from now, or what campaigns are going to be the best or most important. That’s why the smartest marketers don’t put all their eggs in one basket.
The 80/20 rule always wins out.
“I’m honestly more worried about those who are starting to win on platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram because that’s when they start to get complacent,” says entrepreneur and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk on his blog.
“They start to put ‘what’s working’ on a pedestal and start romanticizing it — just like bigger businesses put channels like billboards or television commercials on a pedestal even though they don’t work nearly as well anymore.”
Vaynerchuk has consistently had a large audience across multiple platforms, and his secret is simple: he devotes 80 percent of his attention to the most effective platform right now and 20 percent to the other platforms.
Related: The Secret to Making Facebook Ads Work for Your Business
You’re constantly going to see the most effective avenue switching between platforms. What works now isn’t necessarily going to work in the future. But if you’re keeping a finger in multiple pies, you’re ready to move when one of them pops and your current best platform starts to tail off.
Just like in any other avenue of your business, if you’re relying too much on one advertising channel, you’re opening yourself up to far more risk than you should. Diversify your online ad platforms. If you don’t, the market may do it for you. Better to be prepared.